Strong Nation Community hosted a morning tea at Strong Nation Church in Windsor last week to let the community know about the many ways it can provide help if they need it.
The not-for-profit organisation recently rebranded from its former name of Hawkesbury Community Services, and has been operating in the Hawkesbury since 1992.
Managing director Bruce Gabin said Strong Nation offers a range of services for disadvantaged, vulnerable and isolated groups, including low-cost food and clothing, assistance paying utility bills, and classes for parents with young children.
Community FoodCare sells affordable food and pantry items from 43 Brabyn Street, Windsor (behind the church), and is run by volunteers.
Mr Gabin said the organisation had made a number of small changes recently to make sure it provided the best food it could for its customers.
This included partnering with a local farm for fruit and vegetables - which FoodCare then provides to its customers for free - and leaning on supplier Foodbank to provide a wider range of food items.
“The FoodCare volunteers are now offering healthy meal preparation suggestions based on all the items we have for sale, so people can shop based on those suggestions,” Mr Gabin said.
He said the service was not just about providing low-cost food, but also tackling social issues like isolation which affects numerous people in the community.
“When people come to the shop, they can also have a ten- or fifteen-minute conversation with the Strong Nation Church chaplain, and that could be the longest conversation they’ve had with someone all week,” Mr Gabin said.
Though Strong Nation Community is run by the Strong Nation Church which is aligned with Australian Christian Churches, Mr Gabin said its services were offered to anyone in need, irrespective of religious faith.
The organisation offers emergency relief hampers made up of items from FoodCare, as well as energy accounts payment assistance vouchers funded by the NSW Government.
They also provide an early intervention program funded by Department of Family and Community Services for parents with children under three; a specialised homeless service funded by Mission Australia; and a Wesley Mission-funded Brighter Futures Program for different age groups in at-risk families.
Strong Nation runs the Hawkesbury Clothesline and Barn which sells low-cost clothing and household items and is staffed by jobseekers on the Government’s Work for the Dole program, and also provides chaplaincy in four local schools - Richmond Public, Windsor Park Public, Freemans Reach Public and Windsor High.
Beyond these services, Mr Gabin said Strong Nation provides information about, and help accessing, other services available elsewhere in the community.
“We always try to help people. We have contact with government and non-government agencies in the area that we can refer people to if they have a need we cannot meet,” he said.
He said this included researching what services are available, referring people and setting-up appointments for them.
“We have no problem with people dropping in, sitting down and drinking the free tea and coffee we offer. Some people come to us and sit down for half a day because they needed somewhere to go.”
Visit www.hcs.org.au, phone 4587 8091, or drop-in to Strong Nation Community on the corner of Macquarie and Brabyn Streets, Windsor.